Dragons Eye II - Sleep (4)

This is a continuation of the Books about Jon, Kathy and Anthem written a couple of years ago. I will publish new pieces of the story every couple of days...

Copyright Dark Aelf, 2021

I dropped to the small grave. I expected the worse, part of one of my cats or something worse. I was looking at a dirty plastic bag. I poked it gingerly, and the contents gradually revealed themselves to be wallets and a couple of other household items. I looked at Breddi, "You could have told me." She yawned and looked over in the direction of the bonfire.

I retrieved the cross, it seemed to have some writing on it, but the light was fading fast. As a last act of bravery, I dug the iron pipe into the soil a little deeper, without any result. 

I picked up the plastic bag and turned to call Breddi inside but froze again. She was half-crouching turned towards the creek, her ears wide open. I turned and looked in the same direction. I felt a cold thrill running up my spine. I heard the crack of dry willow, and I gripped the iron pipe tight, scooped the cat up, and headed for the landing. I skidded on the deck, my heart racing, as a long dark growl issued from the creek. As I slammed the door shut, I thought I heard the sound of high laughter.

The house was dark. I locked the doors, threw the bag onto the sink for cleaning, and stirred up the fire. 

Without electric lights, there is usually no incentive to stay awake much longer than sunset. I lit a dozen candles and packed the fireplace fall of dry wood. I busied myself making some dinner for myself and Breddi, who sat next to the bag on the sink watching through the dark window. I told her to take a rest from the bag, but when she didn't move, I opened it. Two wallets, a cigarette lighter, and a couple of unopened letters fell out. I put the bag on the sink and backed away.

Silence gradually fell. Kicking myself that I had not thought of it earlier, I dragged out an old transistor radio, but all I got was static. While the kettle simmered on the fire stove, I found the emergency UHF two-way radios and tried all stations before switching it to scan traffic. 

Gradually, apart from a couple of mice in the ceiling, silence prevailed. 

Breddi paused to eat the best dinner I could rustle her up. She then found a place next to my head on a lounge seat where she could watch the mice ceiling. I was looking at the sink, trying to remember why there were two wallets buried in my garden. My heart rate started to fall. 

A candle was on an old oak servery next to my seat, close enough to pick up my slightest vibration. 

At night, when I am falling to sleep, the world descends into silence. Beyond silence, I start to hear the small waterfalls in the creek. Boobook Owls hunt along the stream and nest above it, calling the success and failure of each patrol. 

Each place we nest has its sounds. The great cities that never sleep hum with power and the occasional cry of police cars gaming a hunt. Small inland cities sleep in fields of cattle and sheep, vibrating with each new train. Small fishing settlements curl in the wash of waves and curlews. 

My mind started to drift. It is hard to leave a place we know behind, the familiar patterns of sounds that rock us to sleep and patrol our dreams.

I became transfixed by the flame. Small flames are very sensitive. The shape and momentary intensity of the flame can be interrupted and changed by the slightest motion of an observer. Combined with lack of sleep, many night firefighters start to personalize fire, imagining it dancing or playing with them. Deep in the old forests of the Duea,  a forester once warned me how a captive flame could take a dangerous hold on the mind. After fighting fire deep into the evening, as the sea breezes damped the fire ground, we would resort to fire to boil our billys, stewing tea and gum leaves into an invigorating mix. Sometimes, around us, the wild dogs, dingos, would surround the fire at a safe distance and sing. The forester told us stories about the flame drawing a firefighter into the conflagration or causing them to scatter embers on the unburnt ground. 

I started to imagine that the flame was beginning to mimic my heartbeat, which slowed. Suddenly, a shard of ice in my mind cried out in pain, "Breathe!" 

I jumped. The candle fell. Outside, there was a sudden scramble of claws on the deck as something scrambled to get away.

back to the Index to Dragons Eye II

(image: Guardian of White Wombat Falls, Yandyguinula)


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